We bought our house in 1994, about 7 months after we got married. It was built in 1955 and had, for the most part, been updated since.
After we moved in, my grandmother gave us $1,000 to help with home improvements. My mom strongly suggested we immediately invest in a home alarm system, because she thinks that most criminals are aggressively targeting our family at all times.
I pondered my options – toilets that would flush or alarm; air conditioner that would pump out cool air or alarm. Because of the intense crime rate in my neighborhood in the heart of North Carolina, I went with alarm.
I have been pleased with it over the past 20 years. It does give me comfort, most of the time.
Last Wednesday night, it did not. It went off at 3:23 AM and scared the &%$# out of me.
It blared for about 15 seconds, went off, and then blared again. How odd.
I had forgotten how dark it is at 3:23 in the morning. Like, imagine being blindfolded in the closet under your mother’s long dresses. That’s how dark it is.
I lay in the bed for a minute or two listening for the guys who were about to murder me. Sadly, I didn’t really think about Stephanie who was alone, upstairs, in her bedroom.
These were clearly quiet burglars, perhaps in socks. I couldn’t hear a peep.
I remembered Lisa sharing stories of her father slowly climbing the stairs of their home when she was a kid about ready for bed. She would call out, “Dad, I know you’re there!” She said it felt like hours before he would jump into her room for a surprise tickle attack. I waited with the same anticipation.
I finally mustered the courage to walk to the kitchen. I looked around my room for weapons that could assist in my defense. I had a lamp that could have acted as a tire iron for whooping up on the enemy, but damn, it was a lot of trouble to unplug. The biggest book on my nightstand was Josephus Daniels, his Life & Times. I’ve been trying to read the 600 pager for three months to no avail. Perhaps this would make good use of my investment. I had a hand bell that the kids used when they were young to get my attention when they were at home, sick in bed. Perhaps I could stun his hearing, confusing him while I grabbed my child and ran out the front door.
Finally, I decided I’d rely on my massive strength. I have been working out for years. Although I’ve never punched anyone before, there was certainly pent up force in my massive arms.
I called the alarm company asking if they had received a signal. They had not. I asked the lady on the phone if she would come over and sleep with me. That apparently is not included in my annual contract.
“How much would it cost to add that service,” I inquired.
“More than you can afford.”
She didn’t even sound attractive. People are less fun in the middle of the night.
I considered taking a large butcher knife with serrated edges back to bed with me but decided the likelihood of me actually having the guts to stab someone, regardless of the situation, was less likely than me rolling over and accidentally cutting out my own spleen.
As I nestled back into my Serta, I remembered I had a child upstairs. That was a long way from my bedroom, and I would have to go through several dark rooms to check on her. Certainly she was alright.
My parental guilt sank in – I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I didn’t make sure she was OK. I grabbed Josephus and put my bedroom shoes back on.
When I got to her room, she was sitting up in bed. She had her phone in her hand and her covers pulled up to her chin.
As humans, we act as if a layer of cotton is a force field that can protect us from anything.
“Stephanie, did you hear the alarm?”
“Yes. It woke me up.”
“What are you doing?”
“I’m checking Instagram.”
So, there is a mad killer potentially on the loose in our house, our alarm goes off, twice. She hears me stirring in the kitchen and notices that lights are on. And… she pulls up her covers and checks Instagram. I guess it would be nice to know if you got 100 likes on the last picture you posted before you are bludgeoned to death. OH. More likes than Sarah Kate! I’m ready to die.
“How is checking Insta helping in this situation? I have 911 dialed on my phone and my finger poised over the call button. What are you doing to support?“
“I just assumed you had things under control.”
It is scary to me that my children think I have it ALL taken care of. They put a lot of confidence in this aging, 175-pound, powerhouse of a man. I’m like the Daddy Secret Service.
If they only knew: I AM PETRIFIED, most of the time, on many, many levels.